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January 19, 2015

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ANU Graduate Perseveres to Complete Her Final Term

ANU Graduate Perseveres to Complete Her Final Term

Alfreda Patterson will walk across the stage this May to receive her associate’s degree in office technology professional, but to achieve this success she had to overcome her initial apprehension. “After being out of school for 28 years,” admits Alfreda, “it was slightly difficult coming to college.”

Once she began taking courses at the Lynchburg Campus, Alfreda found that she enjoyed being in school. She loved the learning environment and made numerous new friends as she bonded with her fellow students in class and around campus, and she became very active in campus activities. 

When the student ambassador program was initiated at the Lynchburg Campus, she volunteered and soon became a campus leader. With her warm personality and motivational spirit, she was often asked to speak to classes and at new student orientation. She was always confident and professional as she greeted visitors and guests and frequently volunteered to help out at job fairs, graduation, and campus events.

Just when she was finishing up her final term and preparing to take her final exams to graduate, Alfreda became very ill and spent several days in the hospital in the critical care unit. Three weeks later, she fought back and returned to take her final exams and complete her degree program.

Alfreda now looks toward a brighter future and is appreciative of those who helped encourage her along the way. “As I embark on this new journey, I would like to especially thank [campus director] Bill Baker, my family, and my friends for their support.”

Graduate Alfreda Patterson thrived at the Lynchburg Campus in academic, social, and leadership roles.

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Graduate Returns to Campus to Earn Certification, Stays to Teach

 Graduate Returns to Campus to Earn Certification, Stays to Teach

Sabrina Davis graduated in 2005 from the medical assisting program at the Knoxville Campus, and she is now giving back to the campus that helped her reach her career goals. 

After completing her externship, Sabrina was hired into a family practice, where she worked for five years before moving to a physiatrist lab where she performed the bulk of administrative duties. She was then promoted to the new patient and surgery coordinator position, reviewing charts ensuring information was complete and correct. For the past several years, she has been working in a lab setting, collecting and testing samples. 

Sabrina has enjoyed working in a variety of health care settings and has gained valuable experience along the way, but she realized there was something missing that could take her even further in her career. She decided to validate her knowledge and experience and obtain her registered medical assistant (RMA) certification, which at the time of her graduation was not required in the medical community. She returned to the Knoxville Campus and reached out to health care director Barb Neblett for guidance on becoming an RMA.  

After taking the exam and earning her RMA certification, followed by several encouraging conversations with Barb, Sabrina accepted a faculty position at the campus.  

“I’ve always been interested in teaching,” Sabrina stated. “I gained an immense amount of experience in my years of working in different environments as a medical assistant. I thought I could really help the students in bringing that real world experience into the classroom.”

(L to R) Health care director Barb Neblett helped graduate Sabrina Davis earn her RMA certification and become a campus instructor.

LinkedIn Workshop Offers Career Search and Networking Advice

LinkedIn Workshop Offers Career Search and Networking Advice

Career center director Kristal Bushong recently led a LinkedIn workshop at the Roanoke Valley Campus for students, graduates, and community members. “My goal for the workshop was to help students understand how important having a presence on LinkedIn is,” she explained. “It is a great tool to connect with potential employers and get your name out there.” 

Shawn Crawley, a 2006 business administration graduate, attended the workshop. “I came to learn more about LinkedIn, how to set up an account, and use it as a resource for job searches,” Crawley stated. By the end of the session, he had successfully set up an account and planned on scheduling a time with Kristal to work on completing it. 

Network administration student Travis Sumpter also came to learn more about creating his own profile. “I know that LinkedIn is beneficial, but I wasn’t sure about what I needed to include,” he stated. “I am hoping to use the site in my job search.”

Overall, the workshop was a success with attendees learning new information about how to make sure their profiles are professional, completed correctly, and ready for employers to find them. 

Participants listen as career center director Kristal Bushong explains the many reasons for creating a professional presence on LinkedIn.

Small Business Class Learns From Coffee Entrepreneur

Small Business Class Learns From Coffee Entrepreneur

Charlottesville Campus students in Earl Burton’s Managing the Small Business class profited from a presentation by guest speaker Chris Curtis, owner of Blue Ridge Coffee Crafters. “Guerrilla marketing, company strategy, financial planning, and a strategic plan of action are the key essentials to your success,” stated Mr. Curtis, whose lecture focused on what it takes to start your own business and how to be a successful entrepreneur. “Even if you operate on a shoestring budget, plan, review, plan, review, plan, review, plan, and review,” he shared with the class. “The only thing that can stop you is you!”

Mr. Curtis’s company is located in Ruckersville, Virginia and specializes in roasting coffee beans by special order to lock in the freshest tasting coffee available. He labels his coffee beans with the roast date, best brew date, and best use-by date to ensure the quality of the product. Mr. Curtis brought in samples of his roasted coffee beans, dated only the day before, for the class to try.

Business student Cathy Eraso stated, “I really benefitted from Mr. Curtis’s presentation and his business insights because of his emphasis on product quality, while at the same time having developed a very unique production model.”

(L to R) Business instructor Earl Burton and students Curtis Minor and Cathy Eraso enjoyed a presentation by guest speaker and local entrepreneur Chris Curtis. 

Gregory Jessup – English Instructor – Martinsville Campus

Gregory Jessup – English Instructor – Martinsville Campus


Gregory Jessup- Difference Maker at the Martinsville Campus 


English Instructor 

Outside of ANU, teaches GED classes, English as a Second Language, and serves as a tutor for a textbook publisher


ANU faculty member since 1998

Previously served as general studies department chair for two years


Holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English from Radford University

Two-time recipient of “Teacher of the Year” award, most recently at the 37th Annual Virginia Career College Association (VCCA) Fall Conference in September, 2014


“I immediately felt part of the family and still do. I love helping students learn to communicate their thoughts and ideas, in writing and in speaking, in both academic and professional environments. I feel that being able to communicate effectively fosters productivity, trust, collaboration, and community.

“What I appreciate most about ANU students is their determination. These students have my utmost admiration. They are here for the education they need for promotions, better careers, or to start businesses of their own. Therefore, I like to challenge these students by asking them to think outside the ‘box’ of our classroom.

“Many of my favorite and most rewarding moments have come in seeing my students in Oral Communications class develop from being too timid to give a short introductory speech to impressing the class with their final presentations. But the most rewarding times are when I witness their successes without them knowing.

“I’m very glad to be a part of the ANU family. The faculty here at Martinsville are very supportive of one another, both professionally and personally. I feel that desire to see others succeed transfers to the students, too, making ANU a great place to be.”

Instructor Gregory Jessup recently won the “Teacher of the Year” award at the 37th Annual VCCA Fall conference, making it his second time receiving this award. 

Helping Others is Student’s Career Goal

Helping Others is Student’s Career Goal

Carol Evans worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for many years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. During that time, she also helped care for her mother during her terminal illness, and she became inspired to reenter the medical field after seeing the difference that the hospice workers and other medical professionals made to her mother during her final days.

After looking at schools online, Carol came to the Princeton Campus for a tour. “I don’t usually commit to anything,” admitted Carol. But with encouragement and support from Tonya Elmore, director of admissions at the campus, Carol did commit, and she enrolled in the medical assisting program.  

At American National University, Carol enjoys interacting with her instructors and the staff in class and in her work as a federal work study student at the campus. “The instructors have a way of explaining things really well so that you can understand it, and they all work with you really well here,” she said.

As she nears graduation this summer, she’s looking forward to getting back into the medical field. She hopes to work in a fast-paced medical office, such as in emergency medicine. “I’ll finally have a degree—something to fall back on—and a lot more knowledge,” Carol said. “But it’s not about the money; I just want to help people.”

Carol Evans was inspired to continue her education in the medical field after her mother received exceptional care during her terminal illness.

Next Stop Nursing School

Next Stop Nursing School

Registered and certified medical assistant Beth Mcintosh loves the bond that she has developed with her young patients in the pediatrics office at the Kentucky Clinic, the primary outpatient clinic of UK HealthCare. “I have patients who remember me and ask for me. When they come in the door; they’re excited to see me,” explained Beth. “[I love] getting to know the patients, and seeing that I make a difference. Their parents thank me for helping them.”

Almost eighty patients come through the clinic each day. That keeps Beth busy taking blood pressure readings and other vitals, drawing blood, giving shots, and assisting the physicians with procedures.

Beth was hired by UK HealthCare shortly after graduating from the Richmond Campus, where her grandmother encouraged her to enroll. Her family has a long history with American National University--her grandfather having served as an assistant to former Kentucky division president Richard Wood, and her grandmother worked in student services at the Richmond Campus. “She knew how wonderful Keeley [Gadd, the campus director] and everybody at the campus was,” Beth explained of her grandmother’s recommendation.

After being home schooled throughout her childhood, Beth was also drawn to the campus’s small classes, where she quickly felt at home. “I’ve never been so inspired or felt so comfortable,” said Beth. “Every step of the way there was someone there for me.”

Beth is so happy with the education that she received at National that she’s continuing her education in the business administration-management program, with the goal of one day managing a medical office. She also has been accepted into nursing school at the University of Kentucky, where she’ll start classes in the spring.  

The employee tuition assistance that she qualifies for as an employee of UK HealthCare will fund her education to become an RN. It is just one of many valuable employee benefits that she now enjoys, which also include health insurance and a retirement plan.

“I’m only twenty-two, so I have a pretty good start on things, and it all started through [American National University],” Beth stated. “I really love my job. I really love my school. I couldn’t be happier.”

Richmond Campus graduate Beth Mcintosh is working as a registered and certified medical assistant for UK HealthCare and will soon begin nursing school at UK, using the tuition assistance that her employment provides.

Bad News Turned to Great News for Medical Assisting Student

 Bad News Turned to Great News for Medical Assisting Student

Lexington Campus student Amanda Reynolds had worked for several years as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) when her career took a sudden, unexpected turn. “My career was sailing along fine, and out of nowhere I am notified that our jobs are being out-sourced -- no warning, nothing; I was out of a job,” she explained. “After the initial shock, I realized there may be an opportunity to look at another career in the medical field.” 

Amanda, in addition to qualifying for unemployment benefits, was also able to meet with a representative from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), where she qualified for college funds to find a new career. “I was so excited!” she exclaimed. “I enjoyed my CNA career but had always dreamed of moving into a medical office and working directly with patients, as well as in an administrative role. I knew a lot about the medical assisting career and decided - this is my chance!”

What began as a very bad situation has now turned into a huge benefit for Amanda, and she is happy to be set firmly back on the path to a successful career. “I’m doing this not only for myself but for my daughter,” she explained. “A more stable career, much better hours, and I can be a role model for her.”

Part of Amanda’s joy comes from finding the right college. “I looked very carefully, and American National University was the right decision,” she stated. “At first, I didn’t see how my class schedule and a job could work together, but everything has worked out perfectly. I love the short, ten-week terms. My classes are small, and my teachers know all of us – and they help us with everything. I am delighted with my program, and I will be in my new career in no time!” 

Student Amanda Reynolds found a silver lining to job loss by pursuing a medical assisting career through WIA funding.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare Provides Externship and Employment Opportunities

St. Elizabeth Healthcare Provides Externship and Employment Opportunities

St. Elizabeth Healthcare was recently named a Distinguished Community Employer by the Florence Campus in recognition of the externships and employment opportunities that they provide to American National University students and graduates.  

Lisa Blank, system director of employment and development, said that as one of the largest employers in Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth feels that it’s important to partner with American National University and other schools in the area to provide educational opportunities for future medical professionals. “Our best resources are our people, so when we work with the community and with the schools, we’re cultivating a future workforce,” Ms. Blank stated. “We will certainly do anything that we can do to support [American National University].”

Amanda Ranney, a recent graduate of the pharmacy technician program at the Florence Campus, worked as an extern at St. Elizabeth Edgewood, and she feels that the experience was an invaluable one. “I really liked going there,” she said. “The staff was welcoming and everybody was wonderful. If I had questions, everybody was willing to answer them for me.”

At St. Elizabeth, Amanda worked side-by-side with professionals in the pharmacy to provide medications to the hospital’s patients. She particularly enjoyed mixing medications in the IV room. “You have to be exact with those,” she explained.  

Amanda, who passed the exam to become a certified pharmacy technician after completing her program, feels that the externship at St. Elizabeth will be very beneficial to her career. “Just getting that experience will push me ahead of the game,” she said.

A- Director of health care education Kathreen Buckner (left), medical assisting student Frances Rilo (second from left), and career center director Samantha Palmer (far right) presented the Distinguished Community Employer award to Lisa Blank, system director of employment and development at St. Elizabeth Healthcare (second from right).

B- Pharmacy technician graduate Amanda Ranney feels that the experience she gained while participating in an externship at St. Elizabeth Edgewood will be very beneficial to her career.

TAA Program Enables Student to Train for a New Career

TAA Program Enables Student to Train for a New Career

Brenda Jones enrolled at the Danville, Kentucky Campus after she lost her job as the general staff accountant and payroll administrator of Brake Parts Inc., where she’d worked for 29 years.  She came to American National University with funding through the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), which provides training to workers whose companies close or downsize as a result of jobs being sent overseas. “Personally, I saw it as God’s way of saying ‘Here’s your opportunity; take it or don’t say another word about it,’” she recalled with a smile.

After checking into the medical billing and coding programs at a large university, a community college, and American National University, Brenda chose National. She liked that she could complete the program quickly and get back to work, and she was encouraged by the excellent recommendations that the medical billing and coding program received. “I talked to several people, and National had top notch reviews of their coding program and their students,” she explained. “The lady that I spoke to said that their company automatically hired around thirty graduates of the coding program, just on the reputation of this school’s program and what came from that program. So that spoke loudly to me.”

Brenda is on course to graduate this September, and she’s looking forward to reentering the workforce and finding financial stability once again. She plans to become certified in medical billing and coding, and her goal is to find a position in the field that would allow her to work virtually from home.

Brenda encourages others who fear they’ve been out of school for too long to follow her lead and pursue the education that they’ve always wanted. “Don’t let yourself think that you’re too old or that you’ve been out of school too long,” she advised. “I was quite intimidated and overwhelmed, but there is such a home-feeling at this school and that is such a benefit for me.  They help you realize that you can and will succeed.”

A- Brenda Jones enrolled as a student in the medical billing and coding program at National because of the reputation of the program and because it will allow her to get back into the workforce quickly.

B- Brenda received funding through the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) program after she lost her job after her company downsized when work was sent overseas.

The National News is a biweekly publication designed to share the success and academic accomplishments of students and graduates from American National University and National College. For more information, contact the Communications Department.

In accordance with the regulations of the Tennessee Higher Education Council, all references to "American National University" refer to "National College" in the state of Tennessee.